Bree-lliant Move for Former Junior james bree

Former Ossett Town Junior signs for Aston Villa in multi-million-pound deal.

Ossett Town has a junior section that is home to over 350 boys and girls from four years old, for many it is a weekend training and playing with their mates, they all are coached by licensed coaches and given every opportunity to shine with development being a key word at the club.

In Joe Hitch, Tom Smith and Sam Pashley, to name just three, have progressed through the juniors and made it into the clubs first team.

Some are spotted by professional clubs and one such lad was James Bree, he played for the club, coached by Karl Rigg, from u9 to u12 when he was given the opportunity to sign for Barnsley FC.

(C) Barnsley FC

At 16-years old he became the second youngest debutant for the South Yorkshire based side, going on to make 61 appearances for the Championship side. He has caught the eye of many clubs and this week transferred to Aston Villa for what Barnsley call a substantial fee – James is the first player to come through the Junior ranks at Ossett Town who has been sold for over a million pounds.

Coach Karl Rigg remembers him well “James was a shy kid until he got to know you, I remember clearly him walking across the field at Haggs Hill on his first training session and he was looking shyly at the floor while I talk to his mum”.

Bree, fourth player from left

“Within 10 minutes of watching him with a ball, you could tell he was very talented. He had great pace, strong, good with both feet and a fantastic shot, he was very quiet though. However much we tried, he struggled to talk or communicate on the pitch, this was probably the only thing I could say would have held him back, clearly it hasn’t”.

Bree stood out from the crowd at Ossett Town, Rigg saying “from day one he was way ahead of the other players, I remember asking his dad, Dave, if James had been coached to be so good, his reply was that he seems to be a natural talent, however he was obsessed with football, he was either watching or playing the game all the time”.

“There were professional clubs asking for him at under 10s & 11s, but fair play to James and his parents, he wanted to stay at Ossett Town and play football with his mates. After the Under 12 season, we had a couple of discussions with his parents, James had a choice of clubs to go to, and we said that the time was right for him to move on. James needed better coaching and also playing with kids of similar ability, the training and coaching we were doing with the rest of the squad was not challenging James enough”.

Chairman James Rogers was Chairman of the Junior setup when Bree was there, Rogers says “It's a great credit to the club to see a player like James Bree progress as he has done. We strive to provide players with the development and training that will further their footballing ability and when we see exceptional talent like we did with James, it is important that we recognise that player’s interests are best served by moving up in the world of football”.

“Junior football is the lifeblood of grass roots football and absolutely crucial to supporting any progressive football club. I'm really pleased and proud that at Ossett Town we have one of the best junior setups around”.

Rigg has loads of memories of Bree’s time at Ossett Town “He came with us to Holland in 2010 at under 12’s, during one match he scored an overhead kick similar to Wayne Rooney’s against Man City, everyone of all nationalities stood and applauded him. It went straight in the top corner, he came over to me at half time and said ‘was it any good? I never saw it go in cos I was facing the other way’, I replied ‘yeah, not bad kid’”

“He could pretty much put a ball wherever he wanted, even at that age. I won’t mention what he did later in the afternoon with the ball and an ice cream van, needless to say the ice cream man wasn’t happy; he shouldn’t have parked the van behind the goals though”.

“James was the kind of player that could change a game in a few seconds, he was a box to box player playing from centre midfield. I’d love to be able to say I taught him some of the skills he possesses, however the truth is that James was a natural talent, and this was obvious from the first ten minutes of me watching him play”.

Current Barnsley manager, Paul Heckingbottom agrees with Rigg “I first worked with James in the under-14s and I saw his quality straight away, we promoted him to the 18s very quickly. We feel proud to have helped developed Breezy. I hope he continues to shine."

James Bree proves that grassroots football works, and he is an inspiration for the many kids learning the game at Ossett Town. Bree is an inspiration to them all.

Everyone at Ossett Town wishes James Bree the best with his move to Aston Villa, we will be watching his progression closely.

Bree, with the drink, listens intently.
Created By
Neil Spofforth
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